Monday, September 15, 2014

What Drives Your Appetite?

Hunger is an evolutionary cue our body has to prompt us to seek food and eat. However in the modern world where food is so abundant it becomes a fuel to fire for those who are trying to improve eating habits.

Hunger is one of the first obstacles that de-rail any well-intended plan. There are a number of things I try to high light to clients who find this insatiable hunger quite distressing. Distressing enough to cause consistent over eating.

Our appetite and metabolism directly matches how much you eat.

The more you eat, the hungrier you will feel. Fortunately our metabolic rate also matches this new intake. If you eat more, your metabolic rate will increase to burn off all the additional food.

Keeping this first point in mind, if you start reducing your food intake I guarantee that for the first 3-4 days until your metabolism adjusts you are going to be hungry. You need to expect that, and be prepared to wait out that the frame before giving up.

Carbohydrates also drive appetite especially if your diet is carb dominant.

I find this happens with a lot of clients who are diabetic. Monitoring carb intake is so detrimental to disease management carbs become the dominate substance in the diet and there is a huge imbalance compared to protein and fats.

Carbs cause the release on insulin in the body. Insulin is a hormone that can drive appetite. Especially if your diet is high in processed fast releasing high GI carbs, you are probably finding you get hungry 1-2 hours after a meals.

Fix this problem by choosing whole grains, having protein and veggies with most meals. Drink lots of water and find a distraction.

Exercise for some people can also stimulate appetite.

For others it’s an appetite suppressant. However for those who find exercise ramps up hunger plan your meal times close to your work out. There’s nothing worse than spending your time working out and then binging afterward with unplanned food.

Knowing your enemy and preparing gets far better results than dealing with each day as it comes. Beat your hunger down by making a few tactful tweaks to your daily regime.

Did you find this post useful? Then please share on your Facebook and Twitter accounts, I’d appreciate your support.

Should You Pre Workout Snack?

Easy question, but difficult answer! If your goals were weight loss or general fitness, I wouldn’t worry about a pre-workout snack. It would be the case if your hungry or if its afternoon teatime and gym happens to co-inside with this pre snack, so be it.

For those with diabetes it would be a case of checking blood sugar levels and see if you need to take in any more carbs prior to the work out. Again it would be a case-by-case basis.

In other words snacking pre work out is not imperative for most people.

Where the science has shown pre-workout snacking to be beneficial is for athletes. I have explored muscle building in depth in this blog, so yes for those looking to get huge biceps a combo of carbs, creatine and protein is ideal 30-45min pre training.

Things become more interesting when we explore cardio-based sports like cycling, swimming and running. Well, it interested me because of my own person triathlon goals.

In journal club (yes I know how nerdy of me) a few weeks ago we looked at a new study that was published. It explored the idea if giving a dose of carbohydrates at different time periods before exercise would give an athlete a competitive edge?

Within the same study they also looked at different concentrations of carbs to see which would be the most effective in producing these performance enhancements.

The results of the study showed that when athletes drank a 6.4% solution approx. 32g of carbs, 30min before racing on a bike. They recorded the highest power out put than any other trial. Which means they could cycle harder and faster during the race for a specific amount of time compared to everyone else. Some of the other trial included having carbs 120min before a race or having carb solutions of: 0, 2 & 11%.

There is a huge miss conception in the fitness industry and in the general sporting community that snacking before an event even 1-2hrs prior is enough to ‘cover’ yourself pre event. We now know that the benefits are not as great if timing or concentration isn’t right.  Especially at the 2hrs prior mark, you might as well not eat!

Timing of when to have your snack and amount of carbohydrates in your snack is a crucial factor in getting any performance benefits.

The take home message for athletes is to snack 30min prior to any heavy training set, and have at least 32g of carbs in that snack. Hopefully that will get you travelling a bit faster.

Heres some ideas to get you started:

Remember some people do experience gut issues eating before training or even reflux, you may need to test this regime out before a real race!

You know what would make me so happy? If you like this post do me a favour and share it will your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Use the sharing buttons below and if you’re REALLY keen leave me a comment. Now its time to go and eat before my run! Mmmm food

Monday, September 8, 2014

Weight Acceptance

I’ve never really discussed weight acceptance on this blog before, actually it’s a topic that rarely makes interesting magazine articles either. I do think it’s a fundamental part of the whole body confidence, healthy living theme. Weight acceptance is an integral part of healing your relationship with food.

Body dissatisfaction is so intertwined in food choices, for a lot of people it’s hard to talk about changing the diet without addressing how they feel about themselves.

What is perceived as “bad” food choices for some can result in feelings of guilt, self aberration, loss of self confidence and in the end, usually more eating.

One of the biggest driving factors with our negative feelings towards our weight is the driving force of public health messages and marketing that tell us stories that being thin is healthy and being thin is beautiful.

A really powerful thing happened to me on today, a client told me that they had been exercising every day, they were feeling good and you know what? She is OK with her body weight and sick of worrying about it. She felt good in her own skin, healthy, happy and didn't want the burden of feeling terrible of not being able to lose weight. 

It’s like the sky had opened and the light shone through. Hallelujah! 

This made me so happy I wanted to Eeep out loud. Damn it she got it, and I didn’t have to say anything! Weight acceptance is being happy with your body weight and who you are right now.

I know what your thinking, 'oh well she just gave up'. This lady is an older adult that probably exercises more than me and eats the most basic foods being vegetarian, all portion controlled. So no she just didn't give up. Weight acceptance is about keeping up with healthy living, just not obsessing about weight loss. 

There is a degree of respect we should give the lovely machine we walk around in all day. If you love and care for your gift it will reward you with a life time of happy living. Believe it or not weight acceptance usually leads to some gradual weight loss because the guilt and binge eating stops.

I’ve talked about an initiative called Health Weight At Every Size in the past, which is a damn good program. It teaches health professionals and people in general that YES you can be healthy and be “over weight” according to the BMI.

Heck I’m living proof of that.  My BMI has sat at 26 my whole life and I think if you wanted me in the middle of the “healthy weight range” you would have to chop a leg off!

We are not all meant to be wafer thin, and if you exercise, eat nutritious food and have good relationships with people, you can live a holistic healthy life and be over weight.

Being slightly plump is ok, if your ok with it. The only person that has to be ok with your weight is you. The angst to drop a dress size when your fighting fit and healthy is sometimes unneeded stress, that for some people will only cause more feelings of poor self worth.

You are more than the sum of your body weight, you are also personality plus!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Time Hacking

As you all know lately I have experimenting with money saving techniques and living a simple life.  In doing so I have cancelled my audio book subscription, and sold all my books to save space. In my continuous search for knowledge it has lead me to get resourceful.
Podcasts are my new found vice, they are free and give out short useful tips of information from some very successful people. One particular one I wanted to bring to your attention is the Time Hackers channel.
Time hacking is all about how to save time and do be able to achieve more in your day or simply have more free time. It’s targeted at entrepreneurs and busy business people, but I can see these ideas reaching far and wide.
The biggest barriers people have in not eating right and exercising is lack of time and preparation. Why not learn to be more efficient at time management in order to get time to put healthy balance back into your life?
Now I thought I was pretty good at time management and I always find time train every day, yet there were some things I could defiantly try and improve.
Here’s my top pick of useful time hacks:
Prioritising projects: This one is getting more and more important for me these days. With running my business part time, working full time, media contracts, industry meetings and family demands, it’s getting pretty hectic.  In fact just this last week It’s been really bothering me that I have half started projects open on my lap top, but none of them finished! Frustration levels are sky high!
Here’s what you do to start getting through all your projects. Make a list from most important to least, and concentrate on one at a time. If they are bigger projects list each step or milestone you need to complete too and work through it methodically.
Do not give into any other distraction that comes your way whilst working on your project. Allocate 1-2 hours every day to smash into any milestone that is going to give you the biggest returns and push you the closest to finishing. Don’t look for perfection either, do as little as required, keep it basic, and just finish it. You can always go back and jazz it up later. Perfectionists take note!
Keep email inbox clean: Again another hate of mine, I dislike emails sitting in my inbox. I’m heavy handed with the delete and unsubscribe button. Because it’s a bugbear I tend to keep my inboxes open all day and respond to work task emails as they come in. This works really well when media gigs come in a first respond, you win the contact basis, but stifles the creativity and workflow.
Your email becomes your to –do list and it becomes a never ending list of meaningless tasks. You never actually get to working on your project! No good.
Here’s what you do. Either only check your emails 2-3x a day or move them into designated folders as they come in ie “To read”, “Urgent”, “Clients” or “fun”. Have specific and designated time blocks to answer emails max. 30 minutes per day. Don’t waste too much of your precious time!
Pick your most productive time period:  This is a very useful one, some people are morning people, others night time people. Find out when you work the best creativity. For me it’s the morning because my body is so tired I can slump into the chair or sit up in bed and start working with my laptop. Later on in the afternoon I’m pumped to get out and start moving, the afternoon/night is when I get the most out of workouts, I hate exercising in the morning!
Here’s what I did, I decided to get up 30min earlier 6.30am every day of the week to get in 30min of solid writing or reading before my usual day starts. I’ve got a list on continuous tasks that need to be done. Only try this if it doesn’t affect your 8-hour sleep time or you can shift your bedtime earlier so you can get enough sleep.
Have designated time blocks for free time and play: You can’t expect yourself to be creative without having playtime. I’m lucky enough to work from home most days a week, so I do this on my one-hour lunch break to break up my day. I always take my dog for an easy walk in the sunshine, chase him around the back yard playing, meditate or do put on some favourite tunes. 
For those of you with kids you may want to schedule your lunch break for the end of the day to leave work early (work rules permitting) to get home early to play with your kids. Bottom line is to do something you enjoy that isn’t work to give your mind a break.
 Schedule important things into your calendar:  I have really taken this one on board. With the waking up early thing I have set my alarm to go off every weekday at 6.30am. Next is my daily 15min of meditation is set for 9.45pm. Which really helps to unwind just before bed otherwise I forget to do it.
I have other long-standing rules too, as soon as work ends 4pm every day I hop on my bike. Basically I have a routine from when I wake up, to when I go to bed. It really helps to get things done.
It also helps that I don’t have kids and I work from home so I have the luxury to be able to do these things. However these basic principles can be adapted to certain parts of your day to make your more efficient. Getting into routine will also help your kids find comfort in routine and help them organise school homework better.

Have you got any time hacks you’d like to share?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gluten Free Isn’t What It's Cracked Up To Be

I saw this YouTube clip the other day where an American comedian was making a point of how gluten free eating has become a craze. It seemed that every trainer who was running in the park was on a gluten free diet, but couldn’t even explain what gluten was.

Now before we start on this short dietary analysis on gluten free eating. I am fully aware that people with coeliac disease need to be gluten free for autoimmune reasons. I am also well versed on people who suffer from a ‘gluten intolerance’ which is more so related to a fermentable sugar issue as part of a boarder condition related to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

The above two scenarios is NOT what I am taking about when I am highlighting going gluten free is a waste of time.  The craze to become gluten free as part of a fad diet and weight loss regime is what I am addressing in this post.

There’s been a whole range of books with half-baked theories about gluten being the root of all-evil in our food chain. Actually the first book of complete quackery that comes to mind is the Wheat Belly diet book. 

Although there as been some research to suggest some people may have a problem with gluten, this is a far cry from the entire population needing to be gluten free. Remember with research papers there are always arguments for and against, but the majority of quality research rules. So far gluten is safe!

For those readers who don’t know what gluten is, it’s a protein found in certain grains such as wheat, rye, barley and traces in oats.  Gluten isn’t a nutrient itself, it’s the sticky stuff that binds bread together.

The problem is that when you cut out gluten you are excluding a large majority of the low GI healthy grains available to us. Whole-wheat, oats, rye, and Barley are all high fiber grains that are slow releasing. Gluten free grains like potato, rice and corn are all fast releasing, and sadly lower fibre options. 

The other problem I also see is when people change to avoiding gluten, is this automatically makes all food that is gluten free, free reign.

They start to fill the diet with pre packaged highly processed gluten free cakes, biscuits and pastries. Which tend to be higher in calories, preservatives, sugar and fat to make it taste as good.  Also to make it stick together like their wheat based counter parts.  

Gluten free doesn’t make it calorie free.

In fact most of the time gluten free products are often more calorie dense and lower in fibre because they are made form high fat alternatives like almond meal, coconut flour and rice flour.

Weight loss requires energy restriction, cut calories, you lose weight. Plain and simple. Cutting out gluten is not a magic pill.

If you do suffer from some gut symptoms and are considering going gluten free, it’s often more to it than just gluten. It’s usually also a fermentable sugar issue as well. Go and seek some professional help from a dietitian to get you started on a low FODMAP treatment regime to get to the bottom of your gut issue.

Lastly if you need to go gluten free, or if you want to try it out for whatever reason. Choose your whole food low GI alternatives where possible like amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa or wild rice. Tap into legumes like lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and broad beans for sources of high fibre low GI carbs.

Happy eating!